Archive for January, 2012

January 25, 2012

Spaghetti with sausage-mushroom sauce

Food Network

Serves: 4

  • Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 8-ounce package sliced mixed mushrooms
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Shredded parmesan cheese, for topping (optional)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil to the skillet and increase the heat to medium high. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and rosemary and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Return the sausage to the skillet, then add the cream and 1 cup water; bring to a gentle simmer and cook until slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the spaghetti to the skillet and toss with the sauce, adding some of the reserved cooking water to loosen, if needed. Top with shredded parmesan, if desired.

*Chef’s note: Pretty good! I used wheat spaghetti and three large sweet Italian sausage links, but the sausage seemed a lot milder in flavor than usual. I would add a bit more tomato paste and rosemary and some crushed red pepper flakes next time.

January 25, 2012

Baked corned beef brisket

Luby’s Cafeteria 

Serves: 10

  • 4 pounds corned beef brisket
  • 6 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard

Preheat the oven to 225. Wrap the corned beef in heavy-duty foil and seal the edges well. Place the brisket in a roasting pan and bake for 3.5 hours. Mix the sugar and mustard and set aside. Take the brisket out of the oven and increase the temperature to 350. Unwrap the brisket and spread the sweetened mustard all over. Bake, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.

*Chef’s note: This was not very good. It was tough and chewy; I will stick to boiling my corned beef or using a slow cooker.

January 25, 2012

The ultimate vanilla cupcake, Vanilla bean buttercream frosting

Cupcake Project

Makes: 16

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup (225 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 3/4 cups (175 grams) cake flour, not self-rising
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) full-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup canola oil or vegetable oil (60 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon pure (not imitation) vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) whole milk

For the frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar (add more until it reaches your preferred consistency)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (add more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon milk

For the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). In a small bowl, combine sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean. (For those of you who are new to using vanilla beans, check out this video to learn how to get the seeds out of the bean.) Using the back of a spoon, move around the bowl and apply pressure to break up any clumps of seeds and to better infuse the vanilla flavor into the sugar. Set aside.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the vanilla bean sugar and mix until well combined. Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes.  Because there is so little butter, you’ll end up with a very fine crumb texture.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined.  The batter will be liquid.  (Don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong.  It’s supposed to be that way.) Fill cupcake liners just over 1/2 full.

Bake for 14 minutes and then test to see if they are done. They are done when a toothpick comes out without wet batter stuck to it.  The cupcakes should appear white with specks of vanilla bean. They should not turn a golden brown.  If they are not done, test again in two minutes.  If they are still not done, test again in another two minutes. When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and leave them on a cooling rack (or just on your counter if you don’t own a cooling rack) to cool.

For the frosting:

  • Mix together sugar and butter until they are blended and creamy.
  • Add vanilla bean paste and milk and continue to beat for another minute.
  • If desired, add more vanilla bean paste to taste, or more confectioners’ sugar to make it stiffer.

*Chef’s note: HOLY. MOLY. Best cupcake I’ve ever made. One of the best I’ve ever eaten. If you love vanilla, make this now. If you don’t love vanilla, make this now, and you will love vanilla. Seriously, it is DIVINE! I foresee myself craving this often. So moist and fluffy, but still substantial. I had never used vanilla beans before ($4 a bean!), but it was so worth it for this cupcake. If my blog had a category “heaven,” I would check it. For the frosting, I used a tiny bit of the bean plus 2 teaspoons of extract in place of the paste. The frosting was a bit grainy, but, as I’ve said previously, I’m still working on perfecting my skills ;)

January 25, 2012

French country omelet

Ina Garten 

Serves: 2

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup (1-inch-diced) unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 extra-large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch ovenproof omelet pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 3 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is browned but not crisp. Take the bacon out of the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.

Place the potatoes in the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue to cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until very tender and browned, tossing occasionally to brown evenly. Remove with a slotted spoon to the same plate with the bacon.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the eggs, milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together with a fork. After the potatoes are removed, pour the fat out of the pan and discard. Add the butter, lower the heat to low, and pour the eggs into the hot pan. Sprinkle the bacon, potatoes, and chives evenly over the top and place the pan in the oven for about 8 minutes, just until the eggs are set. Slide onto a plate, divide in half, and serve hot.

*Chef’s note: Great for breakfast! Or any meal, really. Served 4 for me alongside toast and fruit. Easy. The potatoes took about twice as long for me, and I had to scrape some bits out of the pan after cooking them (probably because I discarded the grease when it didn’t call to). Despite that, the omelet really does come right out of the pan like it does on TV…. :D

January 25, 2012

Oatmeal Cake; Cinnamon cream

Tasty Kitchen; Paula Deen

Makes: 1  9″x13″ cake

For the cake:

  • 1-½ cup Water
  • 1 cup Oatmeal
  • 1 cube Butter, Softened
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1-½ cup Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoons Nutmeg

For the caramel glaze:

  • 1 cube Butter, Softened
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • ½ cups Evaporated Milk
  • 1 cup Shredded Coconut

For the cinnamon cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cake:

Set oven to 350ºF. Boil water and add oatmeal. Stir and let sit 15 minutes.

Mix together butter, brown sugar, sugar, eggs, flour, baking soda, salt, vanilla and nutmeg. When combined, add oatmeal. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan.

Bake 30 minutes (don’t overbake). Turn oven to broil while preparing the caramel glaze for the cake.

Heat butter, brown sugar, and evaporated milk until boiling. Add coconut and continue boiling 1 minute. Pour over warm cake. Place cake in the oven (watching closely) until coconut is lightly browned.

For the cinnamon cream:

In a medium bowl, beat cream at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until thickened. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon, beating until stuff peaks form. Cover and chill.

*Chef’s note: WINNER. Wow. This was another attempt to recreate a North Carolina recipe (Grandma’s Oatmeal Cake at Tipping Point Tavern, on Main Street in Waynesville), and it was very different — but AWESOME. Dang, that caramel glaze. Sinful. Based on comparison with another recipe, I treated “one cube” as one stick in the cake, and one cube as 2 Tbsp. in the glaze. I also added 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon to the cake. The coconut I used was sweetened.

January 25, 2012

Lazy Bolognese-style lasagna

Rachael Ray

Serves: 4-6

  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound wavy lasagna noodles, broken into irregular pieces
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 spring of rosemary, finely chopped
  • A sprinkle ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 rounded tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente.

In a Dutch oven, heat the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the beef and brown well. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, rosemary, cloves and lots of salt and pepper and cook until tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste for 1 minute, then stir in the wine for 1 minute. Stir in the stock and simmer for a few minutes longer.

Preheat the broiler and position a rack in the center of the oven. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, then the milk, and let thicken enough to coat a spoon; season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Toss the pasta with the meat sauce and arrange in a casserole. Pour the béchamel sauce over the top in an even layer. Top with a layer of parmigiano-reggiano and broil in the oven to brown the top.

*Chef’s note: Definitely give this a try if you are looking to switch up your go-to lasagna recipe. Yummm. Carrots and nutmeg may seem weird to you, but this really is a tasty, tasty dish. If anything, I would use fewer noodles. As my mom pointed out, just because you don’t layer this dish does NOT make it lazy… But it’s still not tough. Give it a go! A little sloppy to eat, but cooking always feels fancier when  béchamel is involved….

January 25, 2012

Chicken fajita quesadilla

Serves: 4

  • 1 lb. chicken tenderloins
  • Mojo marinade
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
  • Garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Sharp cheddar cheese
  • 8 whole wheat tortillas

Marinate the chicken for at least 3 hours; grill. Slice chicken; set aside. Meanwhile, sautee peppers, mushroom, onion and garlic in olive oil. Load up tortillas and make like regular quesadilla (2 tortillas for a whole quesadilla), greasing griddle with a small amount of butter.

*Chef’s note: Mmmm. Obviously a super simple recipe, but full of flavor and great for a weeknight meal. Grab your largest spatula for an easy flip ;)

January 25, 2012

Dark chocolate cupcakes; vanilla buttercream

Paula Deen; Magnolia Bakery

Makes: 2 dozen cupcakes; frosting for 2 dozen cupcakes or 1 (9-inc) layer cake

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 6 (1-ounce) squares semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 recipe frosting
For the buttercream:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 to 8 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with paper liners.
In a medium saucepan, combine butter, chopped chocolate, and cocoa powder. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth; cool for 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat sugar and eggs at high speed with a mixer until thick and pale.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Gradually add to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Stir in butter mixture.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. Pipe or spread Cherry Buttercream over cupcakes. Store, covered, in refrigerator up to 5 days.
For the buttercream:
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

*Chef’s note: Paula promised a dense, fudgy cake with this recipe, and she delivered! My dad loves dark chocolate, so I made these for his birthday. Safe to say they were a hit! As for the icing, it’s not a true buttercream, but was tasty. Mine was on the runny side even with the maximum amount of sugar, but it tasted fine. I was a bit disappointed that Magnolia didn’t have a more special recipe, but I also haven’t perfected my frosting-making skills!


January 25, 2012

Bangin’ bacon and cheddar scones

Aaron McCargo Jr.

  • 3 cups self-rising flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1  1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 10 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1  1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, for egg wash
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Add the flour, salt, and pepper to a large bowl. With a box grater, grate the butter into the flour. Mix the butter into flour with your hands until well incorporated. Add the cheese, green onion and crumbled bacon. Mix until evenly distributed. Add the buttermilk and mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a stiff dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle a 1/2-inch thick. Cut wedges of dough out to preferred scone size and arrange on a half sheet tray lined with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, beat the egg and brush each scone with the egg wash. Sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt and bake until nicely browned, about 14 to 16 minutes. Remove from the oven and arrange on a serving platter.

*Chef’s note: Whoa. Salt. These were borderline inedible they were so salty. I was so bummed because this recipe has such potential and got great reviews. Seemed perfect to accompany eggs and fruit! I believe my self-rising flour may have been the main culprit (I used Southern Biscuit brand), because I followed the recipe exactly except using even less bacon than it called for. Next time I would leave out the added salt, as the leavening agents in the flour already contain sodium, continue to use a couple of strips of bacon fewer than the recipe calls for, and skip the salt garnish, instead adding a bit of sharp grated cheddar on top. I also cut my scones very weird and too thin; they should have been twice as thick. Lessons learned!

January 25, 2012

Skillet rosemary chicken

Food  Network

Serves: 4

  • 3/4 pound small red-skinned potatoes, halved, or quartered if large
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Juice of 2 lemons (squeezed halves reserved)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each)
  • 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved

Preheat the oven to 450. Cover the potatoes with cold water in asaucepan and salt the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender, about 8 minutes; drain and set aside.

Pile the rosemary leaves, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt and the red pepper flakes on a cutting board, then mince and mash into a paste using a large knife. Transfer the paste to a bowl. Stir in the juice of 1 lemon and the olive oil. Add the chicken and turn to coat.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, cover and cook until the skin browns, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken; add the mushrooms and potatoes to the skillet and drizzle with the juice of the remaining lemon.

Add the rosemary sprigs and the squeezed lemon halves to the skillet; transfer to the oven and roast, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crisp, 20 to 25 minutes.

*Chef’s note: I had made this before, and I think it turned out better before. Still a great dish. I think my rosemary could have been fresher, it could have used a bit more seasoning, and red potatoes are a bit bitter to begin with. I used a Dutch oven instead this time; this may be why the skin didn’t crisp up like it should have. Very important with a dish like this to let your protein come to room temperature before baking.